August 4th, 2011
04:35 PM ET

Men get at least 17.5 years in prison for Florida killings

Four men were sentenced in Florida Thursday for their role in the 2009 killings of a husband and wife who were shot to death when a crew of masked men burst into their home, a court spokeswoman said.

The four - Leonard Gonzalez Sr., Rakeem Florence, Gary Sumner and Fredrick Thornton Jr. - will serve at least 17.5 years in prison, a judge ruled.

The men were convicted of second-degree murder and home invasion for their roles in the slayings of  Byrd and Melanie Billings. A judge in Escambia County, Florida, sentenced them Thursday, according to Marilyn Taylor, the county's director of court services.

Nine special-needs children the couple had adopted were in the house at the time of the 2009 murders, authorities said.

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Filed under: Crime • Florida • Justice
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. Stella

    Not enough time.

    August 7, 2011 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
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